Friday, March 26, 2010

How's that Portuguese comin' Jim?

[main entrance to Rio de Janeiro State University]

Not so great, unfortunately. It's tough. I'm not used to being so stumped by a subject matter. (I'm a pretty smart guy overall. *wink*) Nothing short of intense study is going to get me through this. And so far I have been reluctant to commit the time and effort.

Today I started my third semester of classes. The first two semesters, you may recall, were at the Federal University (UFF) here in Niterói. They were great courses, although I got barely passing grades.

[the place is huge, and really 'Soviet' archetecturally]

This semester I'm at the State University in Rio (the Federal University dropped the "Portuguese for Foreigners" program for some reason). The good news is that I'm only paying R$150 for the whole semester! (UFF was nearly R$1,000.)
The bad news is that classes are on Friday afternoon, for three hours, and put me on the bus back to Niterói exactly at the height of rush hour. Going to and returning takes three hours sitting on the bus. Sigh.
[open outdoor walkways between floors/buildings]

We are a motley crew of 12 students from all over the world: Pakistan, Equador, China, USA, England, Germany... and it seems the mean level of proficiency is BELOW mine, so I'm not getting my hopes up for a huge leap forward. But the structure and routine of studying is definitely something I need to help me improve. And the price is right.

The good news is that this particular state university is known for its language courses (they offer everything from Greek to Japanese, to Spanish to Russian, to English, etc.). Hopefully it will be a good course.

Wish me luck. It has been an uphill battle - and one I cannot shy away from.


forhever said...

boa sorte!..My wife and I are planning on moving in 2012..I have a couple of semesters here under my belt...they say "total immersion" is the best teacher for language..since you have been in brazil have you found a lot of your portuguese has evolved outside of class?? of course living in Rio you probably run into english speakers quite often??..just curious


Jim said...

Matue - there is a bit of "like-it-or-not" immersion that happens when you move here. The bus, the market, the television, the bank -- it's all in Portuguese. It really helps with learning to hear the cadense of Portuguese. And you quickly pick up the everyday banter.

People are exceptionally helpful and thrilled to meet someone who has moved to Brazil.

But my problem has been that I have NOT been immersed. Luiz and I speak English in our home, my job as an English teacher has me speaking English all day, I spend hours on the computer (in English) and when I meet Brazilians who learn I am from the US they want to practice their English!

So it has been slow. The good news is that I understand about 70%, but to actually PRODUCE Protuguese -- it is not easy.

Keep at your course work!

sarah&paulo said...

Thank you so much for the dica! I will look into the course.

Do they have multiple levels?

Boa Sorte

Fabio Bossard said...

Wow! I didn't know that these classes are so expensive at UFF. I graduated from UFRJ and I have no idea how much they charged. Good luck on your study!

Jim said...

Sara & Paulo -- so far I thnk it is just one level - basic. At UFF on the first day we all spoke to the teacher and wrote a brief essay about ourselves. Then the teacher broke us into three levels and we went our separate ways with three different teachers. That does not seem to be the case here. But I will keep you posted as I learn more.